animals at work

In this article we look at whether Employers should allow animals into the workplace – the laws you need to know about and the best or most fun practices.

There are several types of animals that could be in the workplace:

1. Assistance Animals

2. Emotional Support Animals and

3. General Pets.

Read the article for full details.

Should you allow general pets in the workplace?

Generally speaking, employers don’t have to let staff bring their pets to work (with the obvious exception of a disabled member of staff who has an assistance animal – see below).

Some employers are happy to allow pets into the workplace. They may be a morale boost for staff, leading to improved well-being and productivity and they may also be a recruitment/retention tool with the company viewed as progressive and forward thinking.

First though, it’s important to distinguish between allowing employees to bring their pets to work, and the legal obligations that employers have regarding disabled employees who rely on an assistance animal (see below).

However, if you want to allow pets in the workplace you’llneed to set rules and boundaries for the pet and their owner.

And Other obligations for business (beyond staff members)

In May 2022 a shopper (Ian Fenn) launched a claim of discrimination against a London branch of Sainsbury’s after they refused to allow the shopper’s assistance cat into the shop with him. The shopper relied on his trained cat for support in his daily life as he suffered from episodes of sensory overload that were triggered by busy environments.  Sainsburys told him they would only allow assistance dogs into their shops.  Various hospitals, shops, and hotel chains had allowed Fenn to bring Chloe along for assistance. The cat is on a lead when he takes her to shops and wears a fluorescent yellow “service cat” jacket. (There are no further updates on this discrimination claim yet).

The Equality and Human Rights commission has advice for businesses who offer services to the public, about their obligations and legal duties towards assistance dog owners.